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Archive for November, 2008

The Cosmopolitan – A Week of Pink

Posted by Reese On November - 15 - 2008

As a card carrying man its a bit difficult to enjoy pink drinks, at least in public.  But, my friends, after a week of experimentation I can assure you that the Cosmopolitan is well worth swallowing your pride for.  This week was particularly well suited for analysis and experimentation.  In my initial search for recipes an interesting trend came the surface.  There seem to be two general families of Cosmos.  The difference between the families is the amount of cranberry juice each utilizes.  The recipe I started the week with (Gary Regan’s) is part the cranberry for color family.  The second is the cranberry for flavor family.

The first recipe I played with was Gary Regan’s from the Joy of Mixology.  I found this recipe to be extremely well balanced and the citrus and sweet components were perfect.  I think it can best be described as a Margarita for people who don’t like Tequila, which isn’t particularly surprising given the similar ingredients.  Further spurred on by Matt’s suggestions I decided that this would be a good recipe to test the effects of using regular vodka in place of the suggested citrus vodka.  On the initial nose the two cocktails are indistinguishable.  The flavor on the other hand is more complex with the addition of the citrus vodka.  That said, the use of regular vodka in no way makes this a bad cocktail.  In fact, in the cranberry for flavor recipes I think the citrus vodka is nearly covered anyway and as such I’d recommend using whatever vodka you like.

My next side by side comparison utilized a cranberry for flavor recipe and compared whether its worth using pure cranberry juice or if cranberry cocktail should be the choice.  In the picture above the cocktail on the left I made using cranberry juice and the one on the left using cranberry juice cocktail.  The first thing you’re certain to notice is the much deeper red color that the pure cranberry juice produces.  The resulting flavors are also quite different, but both very good.  The pure cranberry juice is more tart and offers a much more intense cranberry flavor.  Additionally the tartness causes you to slow down in your consumption which is not an all together bad thing at times.  The cranberry juice cocktail on the other hand produced a less tart, sweeter cocktail with a less intense cranberry flavor.  This drink is much more drinkable.  In these proportions the percentage of alcohol is low enough that the drink will freeze if placed in a freezer (I found this one out by accident).  I mention this because I think this recipe could be used either as a punch or as a basis for a punch.

To summarize this experiment I would suggest using cranberry juice cocktail if you’re looking for a drink that is sweeter and puts more emphasis on the lime and cointreau flavors.  If you’re looking for something a bit more tart and complex definitely give the pure cranberry juice a go sometime.  If you’re making a recipe from the cranberry for color family I think the real cranberry juice is worth the extra cost as it yields a cocktail with a much deeper color.  However, one final note.  Pure cranberry juice is a little on the pricey side (mine was about $9 for a bottle) and I can’t really envision anyone drink the stuff straight so you might want to freeze some or plan to mix it with something else so you don’t waste what’s not used in your cocktails.

So the final Cocktail Hacker verdict for this week is that I like two recipes.  One from each family.  From the cranberry for color family I like Gary Regan’s recipe from the Joy of Mixology.

Cosmopolitan [Cranberry for Color]
[Ingredients]
1 1/2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 - 2 dashes Cranberry Juice for Color
Garnish with a Lime Wedge
[Directions]
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker
2) Add ice and shake until chilled
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

And from the cranberry for flavor family I like the simple recipe (#1) from Difford’s Guide.

Cosmopolitan [Cranberry for Flavor]
[Ingredients]
1 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
Garnish with a Lime Wedge
[Directions]
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker
2) Add ice and shake until chilled
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

So, if you’re a bit worried about ordering a pink cocktail you certainly have nothing to fear in this one.  The Cosmopolitan is a fantastic cocktail that is well worth your time.  Plus, you’re comfortable in your manhood and you can drink whatever you damn well please.  And if anyone gives you any crap, finish off your Cosmo, then use some of your ninja moves you learned from late night TV on them.  They’ll never mess with the crazy guy again.

Cosmopolitan

Posted by Reese On November - 10 - 2008

I’m a bit late this week but fear not we’ll be enjoying a new cocktail.  I haven’t given much time to vodka on the blog thus far and that’s partly due to the fact that by itself it’s not particularly exciting.  However, it still reigns as the most popular spirit sold today.  So there must be something all those people see in it.  I think one of the amazing uses for vodka is its ability to take on other flavors with ease.  This week’s cocktail is a great example of that.

The Cosmopolitan utilizes citrus flavored vodka.  This choice does two things, one it brings some great citrus flavors to the party which really add to the flavor complex of cocktail, and two the vodka thins the strong flavors of the other ingredients.  This “thinning” allows the other flavors to come through without covering them by the spirit’s inherent flavor.  I’ll be starting my exploration with Gary Regan’s recipe from the Joy of Mixology.

Cosmopolitan
[Ingredients]
1 1/2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 - 2 dashes Cranberry Juice for Color
Garnish with a Lime Wedge
[Directions]
1) Combine ingredients in a shaker
2) Add ice and shake until chilled
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

Gimlet – Tasty and Delicious

Posted by Reese On November - 8 - 2008

Sorry for the dearth of posts this week.  There was a political event happening and I was paying attention to that. ;)  But, fear not, that did not keep me from my work with the Gimlet.  The first experimental track I followed was altering the proportions.  As I mentioned in the intro post the recipe on the bottle of Rose’s Lime suggests a ratio of 3:2 (Gin:Rose’s).  I found these proportions to be too sweet for my taste.  I dropped the Rose’s down so I had a ratio of 2:1 and found that the resultant drink was much more to my liking.

I had some folks over to watch the election coverage on Tuesday so I had some willing participants in the experimentation.  Sean, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts favors a less sweet cocktail.  With that in mind we did a bit of experimentation and found that a ration of 4:1:1 (Gin:Rose’s:Lime Juice) worked really well.  I will say though that this is no longer strictly a Gimlet.  It is however quite tasty and I would highly recommend it as a Gimlet alternative if you’re not in favoring the sweetness but like the lime flavor.  In fact in reading up on the history of the cocktail it seems there are two schools of Gimlets.  Those utlizing Rose’s Lime and those centered on fresh lime juice.  It seems that the fresh lime juice version may slightly predate the Rose’s recipe but beared a different name so in my opinion can’t really be called the first Gimlet.  If you’d like to read a bit more about history of the Gimlet I highly suggest taking a peek at David Wondrich’s excellent write up in this eGullet thread.

And, being one to not leave well enough alone I wondered if I could make a better lime cordial.  The answer paradoxically enough is yes AND no.  I followed Sonja’s recipe from Thinking of Drinking and made a wonderful batch of homemade lime cordial.  However in a Gimlet it lacks the characteristic funkiness that the Rose’s brings to the party and I must say that’s one of the things I really enjoy about the cocktail.  So now you see my paradox.  I’ve created a great homemade lime cordial but it in turn doesn’t make what I consider a great Gimlet.  Gary Regan put it well in The Bartender’s Bible “I’m inclined to think that Rose’s was the ingredient that invented the drink.”  I’ll take it a step further to claim that Rose’s is the ingredient that defines the drink.

One final note.  While reading the history given by David Wondrich I noted an interesting tidbit.  This cocktail was originally conceived to help prevent scurvy on sailing vessels.  And, as noted in the history naval vessels of the period commonly carried “Navy Strength” spirits.  The notable feature of these is their higher proof, generally around 110 versus the common 80-90 found in most spirits today.  So with this information in hand I used the only high proof Gin I had in my collection, Old Raj, and mixed up a 2:1 Gimlet.  This my friends, I feel is the answer.  You still get the flavor of the Rose’s but the Gin kick is noticeably increased.  Another, less expensive, option is Plymouth Navy Strength.  I’ve not tried it but seeing as Plymouth is my go to Gin these days I’m guessing its quite delicious.  So on that note I leave you with our recipe.

Cocktail Hacker Gimlet
[Ingredients]
2 oz Navy Strength Gin
1 oz Rose's Lime
[Directions]
1) Pour over ice
2) Stir to chill

The Gimlet

Posted by Reese On November - 2 - 2008

Well, Halloween week is over for this year and I had a damn fine time.  Hope you were able to get some good ideas from my posts, but now we must move on.  This week, as you doubtless know, is election week and following that theme I’m highlighting the Gimlet.  What does the Gimlet have to do with election week you ask?  Nothing actually, just seemed like a good segue.  I first heard about this cocktail from my friend and loyal CH reader Matt Beasley.  We were at a party at a mutual friend’s and we only had gin and limes on hand, a sad situation I know.  Matt wisely suggested that we make some Faux-Gimlets.  So we mixed up some lime juice, sugar and Gin.  It was a pretty delicious.  Strangely though, I never made the real version using Rose’s Lime, until now.  The recipe I’m starting with is directly off the Rose’s Lime bottle.

Gimlet - A la Rose's Lime
[Ingredients]
1 1/2 oz Gin
1 oz Rose's Lime
[Directions]
1) Stir with ice